To continue on our engine rebuild journey I want to discuss tools this week. Use this post as a basic idea of what tools are required to do a complete engine rebuild at home. Now I know a lot of you probably have a pretty good idea of what is required, but I want this to be a quality resource for anyone just starting out and considering working on their own engine. Below I have shared all the tools required to do a full rebuild, top and bottom end, on a Honda CRF450R. Understandably each make and model will differ slightly due to parts, however I believe this example will provide a great overview of what is necessary to complete a highly thorough rebuild.
In addition to the list here, I put together an Amazon wishlist of "Engine Rebuilding Tools" that you can check out by clicking HERE. I want to point out that I am in no way affiliated with selling any of these tools nor do I guarantee that you will find the cheapest prices by purchasing tools off of this list. I will take responsibility for any impulse buys and am willing to act as a scapegoat should you have to explain why you spent a load of cash to your significant other. Amazon has a very nice way of bundling all the tools into one place so you can get a feel for the individual prices. I added tools to the wishlist based on my own experience with them (I own a good portion of what's on the wishlist) and looked through user reviews on the tools I don't own. When creating the wishlist I definitely kept budget in mind, but these are not necessarily the cheapest options. This tool list is a good place start if you're looking to add to your toolbox.
While some may argue or believe they need Snap-On grade tools, I believe most people can get away with a good economical set of tools. There is no-doubt that mechanics who work with their tools everyday need high quality tools, however the at-home mechanic isn't experiencing the intense workflow of a professional mechanic and will use their tools much less over time. This makes it more economical to buy lower priced tools and replace them slightly more often than the big buck tools. The trick to getting tools you'll be happy with is knowing where to spend a few extra bucks for a quality tool. I believe about 90% of all the tools you need for working on a motorcycle engine can be had pretty reasonably. The remaining 10% is where a little time spent researching good options and spending a little extra money comes into play.
Final assembly tools (torque wrenches), specialty tools, and measurement tools are the three categorizes where you should look for good quality tools. Reassembling an engine or other parts with torque wrenches that are inaccurate can lead to big problems if you end up over tightening bolts, stripping threads, and damaging parts. Not investing in specialty tools which allow you to disassemble and assemble parts correctly can also lead to damaged parts. Finally, precision measurement tools are what determine if your engine components, such as cylinder and cylinder head, are in spec or need to be serviced.
Measurement tools are a very special breed of tool. It takes practice to learn how to use them proficiently. If not used properly, these tools can result in inaccurate measurements. If I were just starting out learning how to rebuild engines I would seek the help of a professional machinist or builder to help with the portion of the rebuild where you need to inspect the cylinder and cylinder head. These are two of the most important parts on an engine and incorrectly assessing the condition of these parts can lead to premature failures. For builders just starting out, experience could be gained by measuring less important parts. From there you can work your way up to becoming proficient at measuring the cylinder and head.
Quality measurement tools such as those offered by Starrett, Mitutoyo, and other industry leaders, can be extremely expensive for the home mechanic to buy new. There are other options such as buying used or buying brands such as Fowler, Brown and Sharp, or Anytime Tools to name a few. In my experiences the quality offered by the lower cost brands has been quite good and when I have compared some of my cheaper measurement tools to the industry standard brands they have done very well. Like all tools, measurement tools are an investment and determining if you'll get enough use out of them to warrant the cost must be determined on an individual basis. For folks just starting out I think having a a nice pair of calipers, 0-1" and 0-2" micrometers, and a set of lash gauges will do your rebuild justice.
Do you have tools you want to recommend? Have something to add? Please leave a comment below.
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